Who could forget the toy that any kid could kill? The tamogotchi originated in Japan but the craze was sweeping the nation during the 90s and there cannot have been more than a handful of children who were without a dead tamogotchi in their back pocket / school bag. A godsend to those parents who refused to let their children have a pet in the home, these tiny plastic eggs were a worthy replacement for a furry friend. Or not. The craze even spawned a movie and television show, both with horrendously cutsie theme tunes which make adults want to throw the tv out of the window:
Tamogotchis were meant to replicate a real pet, but without all the trouble. In reality, they were just as much trouble as a real pet (they needed feeding, toilet training, medicine when they were sick) and they didn’t have the things which makes a real pet worthwhile. They weren’t cute and furry, they didn’t curl up on your lap when you were feeling sad and they certainly didn’t lick your face or greet you with an enthusiastic bark at the door when you arrived home each day.
Nope. Tomogotchis were digital pets which bleeped and whined at you, rather than miaowing or barking. Your pet was ‘born’ (from an egg) when you first activated the toy and you were then required to care for it throughout the different stages of its life. It needed to be fed meals or snacks (usually very ‘healthy’ candy – lessons in good parenting anyone?), ‘played’ with and disciplined. It also left presents of droppings around the screen from time to time, which had to be cleaned up to ensure that the tamogotchi didn’t become ill – poisoned by its own waste product.
90s Children Pet Gameplay
In reality children who owned a tamogotchi got bored pretty quickly. The gameplay available from the toy was extremely limited, and kids got bored with the repetitive actions required to keep the pet alive. In fact, what began as a toy meant to teach children about caring for a pet in a positive and responsible way soon became quite the opposite. Instead of dutifully checking on the digital pet every few hours, ensuring it was kept fed and watered, stimulated by play and cleaned up after, kids took to doing everything they could to kill off their tamogotchi as fast as possible.
Yes – a macabre twist in what had originally been a toy with good intentions. Children became obsessed with dead tamogotchis, comparing them in the playground, bragging about whose had died first and the method of its death, racking up as many as three or four dead tamogotchis in a similar manner to comparing the amount of walkers dispatched by any given character in The Walking Dead. (“How many walkers have you killed?” How many people have you killed? How many tamogotchis have you killed?”) Those with a high death count were respected and considered King of the playground. And woe betide the small girl who still looked after her tamogotchi carefully and responsibly. She had better keep that digital pet locked well away in her locker if she didn’t want the school bully to steal and murder it! Mind you, if she was like the girls in this ad, the bully might have wanted to kill her off too!
All in all, tamogotchis were a toy intended for good but eventually used for evil. And those 90s children are now adult pet owners or even parents for real. It doesn’t bear thinking about.